THE transfer of technology from one area to another is as old as history or anthropology. Techniques of production have spread in the wake of war and conquest. Imperial Powers have introduced them in their colonies. Peter the Great and many others have traveled to far countries in search of techniques for use at home. Wherever migrants have gone, they have carried their "know-how" and methods of work. Sometimes governments have taken measures to attract immigrants with particular skills. At other times they have tried to keep technical secrets confined within their own borders. Because of such a prohibition, for example, the father of American cotton manufacturing, Samuel Slater, had to leave England disguised as a farm laborer, bringing with him "like Prometheus"--as one historian put it--"the sacred flame of the industrial revolution." During the last century, the carrying of advanced productive methods to the so-called underdeveloped countries has been largely a by-product of penetration by business enterprises from the capitalist nations.
Into this age-old process, technical assistance as provided by the United Nations and the Specialized Agencies introduces a modern innovation--the effort to promote the transfer of skills by inter-governmental action, as part of a deliberate attempt to raise the standard of living of the less-developed countries. The United States by itself now offers technical coöperation to many countries, but even more novel in principle is the provision of such assistance by international organizations of which the governments receiving aid are full members.
The Expanded Program of Technical Assistance of the United Nations agencies launched in July 1950 had behind it the precedent of action on a smaller scale carried on before the war by the League of Nations and the International Labor Organization, and after the war by several of the international agencies. Like the bilateral program of the United States, it owed much of its immediate impetus to President Truman's famous speech of January 1949. It was adopted in response to repeated demands of the spokesmen of
Loading, please wait...